Select Page

Code Red Riot: Unmasked!

Photo Credit: Fred Morledge –

Code Red Riot: Unmasked!

Code Red Riot is a hard rocking collective ready to break it on out in nothing short of an epic way.  Based out of the Las Vegas music scene and featuring an ex-member of Otherwise, Code Red Riot recently unveiled Mask, their debut magnum opus on Sony RED Music.  On the verge of touring with the likes of Smile Empty Soul and Flaw, Code Red Riot is sure to set off sonic alarm systems all across the nation with their dynamic anthems and exhilarating live shows.  Highwire Daze Online recently caught up with vocalist and Code Red Riot founder and mastermind Corky Gainsford to discover a whole lot more about this amazing new band on the rise.  And now presenting Code Red Riot: Unmasked!

Introduce yourself, and tell me what you do in Code Red Riot.
My name is Corky Gainsford. I am the singer/songwriter/founder of Code Red Riot (Sony RED Music). I was formerly the drummer/co-writer in Otherwise (Century Media Records), but I left the band in 2015 to embark on new musical endeavors – and that became Code Red Riot.

Where is the band based out of?
The band is based in Las Vegas, NV, but our guitar player Taz is Midwestern born and raised, hailing from St. Cloud, Minnesota.

How did you wind up signing with Sony RED Music?
The original demos for Code Red Riot were recorded in my home studio. After I had completed the first few songs, I posted the demo for “Living Low” on Facebook, and it caught the attention of Vinny, the Program Director for Sirius/XM Octane. He liked the tune, and decided to give it some test spins 48 hours after it was posted! A dozen other terrestrial radio stations followed shortly after, and the audience response was tremendous. So, before I even had a complete band put together, record labels started calling due to the response from radio spins of that “Living Low” demo.

I almost chose to stay independent and release the album on my own, but in the end I decided that utilizing the support of a major label would create a greater opportunities for the band’s visibility and success in the long run, so I took the gamble and signed with Sony RED Music for the adventure!

What is the overall story or concept behind the album title Mask?
I spent over 20 years as a drummer, largely supporting “other people’s music.” Although I was often a co-writer (contributing the lyrics, melody, and music to dozens of songs), that input was largely unrecognized because I was always the guy “in the back” of the band. ‘MASK’ is my first real opportunity to bare my soul and firmly introduce myself to the world through music and lyrics that are definitively my own – with microphone in hand, from the front of the band, and the front of the stage.

This transition from drummer-to-frontman felt perfectly analogous to the concept of the “Social Mask” that we all experience in public as human beings. Specifically, how our “public personas” are often only a subsection of our “actual selves.” When we finally take off our Social Masks and reveal our True Selves, there’s always a bit of freedom mixed with fear: How will the public respond? Will they like me? Will they reject me? Do I need to put my Mask back on?

In a nutshell, ‘MASK’ addresses all of those issues as I step forward from behind the drum kit, in an attempt to reveal my True Self.

Select two songs from Mask and what inspired the lyrics.
Living Low” – This was the first song I wrote for what became Code Red Riot. It specifically addressed my frustrations with my previous band, and why I had to leave. I knew it wasn’t the right place for me, I was getting depressed, and I had changed mentally and physically into a person I didn’t like. It was time to cut the ties and move on to my next chapter in life, as I knew that was the only way things could get better.

Slide” – This was the last song written for ‘Mask.’ I was in the recording studio, waiting for the record label to give us the green light to start recording the album, and we were 1 song away from that final approval. I’d already spent a full week writing a new song every day… and lyrically, in that moment, I was fully spent. I had run out of things to say, until I realized that I was completely frustrated with “the process” of needing someone else’s approval to essentially validate my creativity. So, I said to everyone, “Please leave the studio and go to dinner, and by the time you come back I’ll have the final song ready for the album.” The words and melody flowed quickly, and the song was written in less than 20 minutes.

Who produced Mask and what was it like working with them?
Mask’ was co-produced by Shawn McGhee and myself. Shawn had trained with the world-renowned production team of Kevin & Kane Churko, and his approach to getting the right drum and guitar tones on the record was impeccable. He was also an excellent vocal coach, helping me bring out the right emotions and nuances needed for the best vocal performance on each song. Shawn’s slick approach was a nice counter-balance to the quick-and-dirty approach that I like to use in the studio – I prefer to leave some mistakes in the final recorded performance, allowing a certain amount of chaos, weird quirks, and punk rock ethos to remain throughout each song.

What could one expect from a live Code Red Riot show?
Energy, passion, intensity, and a touch of chaos.

If Code Red Riot could open for a band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
The Beatles, because they are the greatest band of all time, and their audiences were ferociously unhinged, manic, and outright insane.

Code Red Riot just completed their inaugural tour, opening for Gemini Syndrome. What was that experience like?
It was really a dream come true, as it was the first tour I’ve ever done where I was truly happy. The guys in my band were fantastic to be on the road with – they all had an impeccable work ethic, a fiery sense of humor, and a strong sense of pride in what we were doing. And, since our album ‘Mask’ had just been released, we were literally watching the audience become more and more familiar with our music at every show, which was a beautiful thing to witness.

What do you find in Code Red Riot that you did not find in Otherwise?
A pure sense of creative freedom and pride in the product.

How easy or difficult was it to make the transition from drummer to front man?
I spent my entire life trapped behind a drum kit. The ability to run around the stage, without any barrier between myself and the audience, is the greatest thrill I’ve experienced on stage. It’s also more nerve-wracking, and I like it.

What’s up next for Code Red Riot?
We’re hitting the road whenever possible. We’ve got tour dates with Smile Empty Soul and Flaw in September, and shows with Buckcherry in October (all of our tour dates can be found at When we’re not touring, we’re already starting to get songs put together for Album #2.

Any final words of wisdom?
Whatever you’re passionate about: Don’t Ever Quit. When I parted ways with Otherwise, I thought I was giving up on my dream, and my career in the original-music industry was over. But, I kept writing and recording, and through tenacious energy and relentless hard work this new opportunity presented itself with Code Red Riot.

Follow your passion, always keep working, always keep improving, and opportunities will come your way.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Code Red Riot on Facebook

Skip to content